Don’t get us wrong – iPads, smart phones and televisions are absolute lifesavers when it comes to keeping your kids entertained. But with warnings from psychologists, optometrists and doctors about excessive screen-time – as well as that gnawing feeling that your kids are missing out on something when they’re sitting inside glued to a screen – there are plenty of reasons to encourage your kids to get outdoors or try something new these school holidays.

Sure, things have changed A LOT since we were kids – and even more since our parents and grandparents were growing up – but who’s to say that the things that entertained us then won’t appeal to our kids now? (Once you’ve locked their iPads away in a safe, obviously…)

Outdoor games:

  • Chain tag: like conventional tag (or tiggy, or tip, or chasies, depending on where you’re from) you start with one person being ‘it’, but as they ‘get’ people they join hands and form a chain – fun for both the last man standing, and the people trying not to break their arms while trying to stay connected while running in different directions. Number of players: 4+
  • What’s the time, Mr Wolf?: ‘Mr Wolf’ stands on one side with his/her back turned to the group, who are standing side-by-side at the other end. When asked, “what’s the time, Mr Wolf?”, Mr Wolf says a number – the group needs to take that many steps towards Mr Wolf. First person to tag Mr Wolf wins, but beware: Mr Wolf can reply “it’s dinner time!” and turn around to chase the group back to their starting side. Whoever gets tagged is Mr Wolf next. Number of players: 3+
  • Red Rover: one person would stand in the middle of the space, with the rest of the players standing side-by-side at one end. The person who was ‘it’ would announce “red rover, red rover, I call over…” followed by, for example, “anyone wearing blue” – anyone wearing blue would then try to get to the other end without being tagged by the person who was it. This process would be repeated until everyone was at the opposite end. Game changer: calling ‘bull rush’ meant everyone had to run to the other side at once, increasing your chances of tagging someone and no longer being ‘it’. Number of players: 4+
  • Cops and Robbers: split the group into ‘cops’ and ‘robbers’, with the cops having a special item (anything will work) and the robbers having a ‘home base’. The robbers have to steal the item and take it back to their base in order to win, without being caught and sent to ‘jail’ by the cops (who win if they put all of the robbers in jail). Number of players: 6+ (preferably even numbers)
  • Capture the Flag: kind of like Cops and Robbers, but the space is split in half and both teams have a special item (again, this can be literally anything). First team to steal the other team’s item and take it back to their ‘base’ on their side, without being caught on the opposing team’s side, wins. Number of players: 8+

Indoor games:

  • Wink, murder: everyone sits around in a circle while one person (the detective) leaves the room. While they’re gone, the other players nominate one person to be the murdered who, upon the return of the detective, starts winking at people around the circle who must die dramatically. Standing in the middle of the circle, the detective needs to figure out who the murderer is before everyone dies. Number of players: 6+
  • Hand elastics: using a large piece of elastic or a tied piece of string (or buy these rainbow renditions of the vintage favourite), teach your kids (or even yourself) how to make different patterns by wrapping and weaving the elastic through your fingers. Start with a star and work your way up to a Cat’s Cradle or, my personal favourite, the ‘hand catch’. Instructions hereNumber of players: 1
  • Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: a classic guessing game starting with the question, “animal (people included), vegetable (food included), mineral (anything that isn’t people or food included)?”. You can put a limit on the number of questions the guessers can ask if you’re up for a challenge. Number of players: 2+
  • Knucklebones: originally played in Ancient Greece and Rome using sheep or pig knuckles, the knucklebones fad really took off in the late 90s with the invention of the far-less grotesque Crazy Bones (bye, bye pocket money!). Check out how to play knucklebones hereNumber of players: 1+
  • Hide and Seek: who says you have to be sitting down, just because you’re inside? Perfect for rainy days or those of us without backyards, Hide and Seek is a true test of creativity (and flexibility if you want to fit into that perfect hiding spot). One person seeks, everyone else hides. Simple. Number of players: 2+
Anastasia White

Anastasia White  

Anastasia (‘Anny’ to her friends and family, thanks to some nickname experimentation in year 4 that unfortunately stuck) is a born-and-bred Brisbanite with a love of coffee and her cat, Olive. Having recently finished a degree in journalism, Anastasia loves being able to learn and write about so many different topics for a variety of audiences.